Posted by: ckckred | August 3, 2014

What Do You Think of Critic Quotations?

The biggest and probably only reason studios care about film critics are movie quotations; there’s nothing that makes a film look more appealing to audiences than reading recommendations (well, other than aggressive advertising and demographic targeting).  Yet movie quotations have been pretty damning to film criticism, dumbing down astute analysis to easy-to-digest blurbs.  There’s no worse culprit to this rule than Peter Travers, Rolling Stone’s film critic, who writes every single of his reviews as if he’s pitching lines for movie posters (just check his site for the offenders).  It’s harmful for many up-and-going critics and film goers to think all film analysis is some cheap and digestible writing.  That doesn’t mean I think all quotations are harmful (I take the opinions of a few critics like A. O. Scott or Michael Phillips seriously), but poster blurbs are hurting contemporary criticism.

But what do you think?


  1. I always wonder whether the quotes are taken out of context. On top of that, every time I hear several movies advertised as “the best film this year” (even if there are several months left to go), it tends to lose the appeal.

    • Those sort of quotes really show that the critics are desperate to appear on posters.

  2. I don’t take them seriously. Therefore, as a marketing ploy, it wastes space on the poster. Especially when they say “best film of the decade” and there’s three years left….

  3. As Thomas wondered above, there have been instances over the years where studios have taken a sentence, or part of, from a review that to put it mildly was highly critical to their product, to give the impression the respected critic liked it. It’s marketing, and I’ve grown highly skeptical of any movie ads that use them. Keep in mind this is the same crowd who came up with ‘astroturfing’.

    • Studios are really only concerned with money and they want to make their movies look as good as possible. It’s really shameful that they’re twisting critics’ words.

  4. They’re quite annoying, especially when you’re watching an ad for a movie that you know most critics hated and then words like “brilliant” and “absolutely perfect” come up on the screen. I don’t think anyone pays much attention to them, but I suppose I could be wrong about that.

    • I dislike those quotes as well. They typically come from low-line critics who starve for attention.

  5. It’s very rare that I see quotations that don’t seem like they’ve clearly been taken out of context, to be honest. As people have mentioned above, stuff like “Brilliant!” and so forth – single words that give you no sense of the tone of the review. I wish there’d be more substantial quotes – quotes of interesting prose that gives you a sense of the shape of the film – but I understand why that isn’t going to happen.

    • I’ve seen a lot of quotes taken out of contest and it’s not only misleading to audiences about the film but hurtful to a critic’s reputation.

  6. I think this is “The greatest post… ever”. And you can quote me 🙂

    • That is the best reply I’ve seen in the history of the blogosphere 😉

  7. Good question! I actually don’t pay attention to them. I mean they most likely pay whoever puts that quote and since I don’t always agree w/ critics, it means nothing tome.

    • I’ve always felt money came into the equation of quotations since critics like Peter Travers who write very ad-friendly stuff seem to get the most publicity. It’s really hurting the critical field.

  8. I remember something out of Roger Ebert’s Movie Answer Man book (which I would highly recommend buying–it’s awesome), where someone asked Ebert why he had pointed out how funny the humor in Dumb and Dumber was when he didn’t like the movie. Of course, they’d gotten that impression that he thought it was very funny from the poster, whereas he’d actually written something like “I laughed out loud during various moment,” and the marketing folks would have just put this:

    “I laughed out loud!”
    – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

    It’s a cheap marketing tool, and I don’t know how often people trust it. I never really did even before I started reviewing movies, because I never really bothered to pay attention to it. I just figured, “Eh, if people are saying this shit about every movie, what the fuck’s it matter?”

    • Those misinterpretations tend to be the worst. I’ve seen a couple of quotations that turned a negative point into a positive.

      • Yeah I wish I could find a website or a book full of examples. They’re so amusing.

  9. Yeah, they are awful. You usually don’t know the context or the sources, so they really are meaningless.

    • I agree, without context the quotes don’t typically make a solid arguement.

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